Varnish time at last!

It’s been a few days since my last post and no, I have not been idle, just too lazy to post an update. I finished the installation of the footbraces. I epoxied the rails into the kayak (I had to remove the front bulkhead to allow access) with thickened epoxy. I taped them and used bent pieces of wood to hold the rails in place until the epoxy set (see photos.) Once dry, I sanded them and applied a sealing coat of epoxy to the exposed wood. I then installed the modified footbraces and put the front bulkhead back in place (see photos.)

I continued working on the cradles and now have them nearly finished. I fiber-glassed both sides, added feet contoured to the shape of my roof rack rails, drilled mounting holes and added slots for the straps.

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I then set to final sanding of everything. This included the hull and deck of the kayak, the hatches, the paddle, the seat back and the cradles. This morning, I started prepping the basement for varnishing. I swept the floor and then used my shop vac to blow the dust off of all the surfaces in the shop. After the dust settled, I vacuumed and then mopped the floor. I also hung plastic sheeting over the kayak to prevent dust from settling on the varnish. I wiped down all of the surfaces to be varnished with a damp cloth, allowed them to dry and then used a tack cloth to remove any last particles. Once the shaop was ready, I showered and then put on a clean pair of shorts and proceeded to varnish bare-chested (so as to avoid lint and dust from my shirt.)

I stirred the varnish (Pettit’s Captain’s Varnish) in the can and then poured some into a clean container and used a foam brush to apply it. I began at one end of the hull and applied three vertical strokes and then feathered the wet epoxy horizontally from the dry surface onto the wet. This cross-hatching does three things: first, it reduced bubbles in the varnish; second, it ensures I haven’t missed any areas; and third, it levels out any runs or excess varnish. This method allows you to maintain a “wet edge” as you work your way down the hull. This is important since after about 30 seconds, you don’t want to touch the applied varnish because it has already begun to set-up and it will just make a mess – if you miss an area or find a run after this amount of time it’s best to leave it. There are going to be 4-6 coats, so it’s not so important to be perfect (except for the final coat!) See the videos for more details.

I did one half of the hull at a time, with the joint (not a “wet edge”) down the keel line where it is not so noticeable. With the hull finished, I proceeded to varnish the paddle, hatches, cradles and the seat back, doing one side of each of them.

I also began sewing the spray deck. I followed Duane’s instructions and cut out the neoprene and mounted it on the form (see photos.) I started sewing the bungee cord onto the neoprene.

Video showing the varnishing technique:

Time-lapse video of one half of the hull being varnished:

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